A friend sent me a link to this article about the Bible and biblical illiteracy among evangelicals today from the January 2015 issue of Newsweek.
The author makes the argument that modern American evangelicalism (aka the popular conservative portrayal of Christianity many have in mind in America) is quite at odds with what the Bible actually teaches, particularly when it comes to issues about the inerrancy of the Bible, issues on homosexuality, women’s roles in the church, the formation of the canon, and other issues. In fact, the Bible condemns the style of Christianity modern evangelicals are practicing now, the article states.
Here’s an excerpt from the article that opened my eyes about the New Testament and the issue with homosexuality in 1 Timothy 1:10:
The declaration in 1 Timothy—as recounted in the Living Bible, the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version Bible and others—could not be more clear: Those who “practice homosexuality” will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the translation there is odd, in part because the word homosexual didn’t even exist until more than 1,800 years after when 1 Timothy was supposed to have been written. So how did it get into the New Testament? Simple: The editors of these modern Bibles just made it up. Like so many translators and scribes before them, they had a religious conviction, something they wanted to say that wasn’t stated clearly enough in the original for their tastes. And so they manipulated sentences to reinforce their convictions.
This topic is pertinent personally to me because last Sunday at my church, we had a seminar about how we should treat homosexuals in the church. Much of the group discussions were rushed because of time constraints, but still managed to have interesting discussions about the topic. One person in my group, who took a straightforward approach to the Bible, said how clear it was in the Bible that it condemns homosexuality and that it was an ‘abomination’ in the eyes of God; therefore, since it is God’s Word that is stated in the Old Testament, we must obey it. However, I brought up some points where it states that also in the Bible, God commands a rapist to marry his victim and compensate the girl’s father for his actions (Deu. 22:28-29), so shouldn’t this be carried out as well today? God said this, it’s in the Bible, so shouldn’t this be obeyed? Or is this verse “less” divine than the other verses that condemn homosexuality (Lev. 18:22; 20:13)?
Churchgoers seem to pick and choose verses that confirm their biases and mold the Bible to support his or her own agendas all the time.
Those of us who have read Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years will find that this article touches upon points in early church history that we would find familiar, especially the early councils that debated issues on the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity. Those of us know by now that reading church history can be a quite unsettling, yet humbling, experience.
The article is quite an interesting read, though it can spark heated reactions from both evangelicals and secular folks alike.